PPP Update: November 2021
06 December 2021
With the days getting shorter, temperatures dropping and Christmas fast approaching, the busy winter season is upon us and this November has been no exception for R3’s Press, Policy and Public Affairs team…
Second Reading in the House of Commons
On 9 November, the Government introduced the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill, which aims to deal with commercial rent arrears that have arisen as a result of Government-mandated business closures during the pandemic. Towards the end of the month, the Bill reached its Second Reading in the House of Commons.
Most of the MPs that spoke at the Reading welcomed the Bill but many raised concerns about how business viability would be assessed. The Minister, Paul Scully, said that it would be up to the arbitrator to look at the business’ finances to make the assessment, noting that Clause 16 of the Bill lists some factors the arbitrators should consider when assessing the viability of a tenant’s business.
The Government is now seeking evidence on the Bill as it passes through Parliament. We will be writing to the Minister setting out our members’ views on the legislation and briefing parliamentarians ahead of the upcoming debates.
Lords mention; rebuttal opportunity
This month, we were pleased to see a number of concerns we have raised regarding the Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill discussed in parliament as the Bill was debated at Committee Stage in the House of Lords on November 10th.
As summarised in our blog, the debate saw the tabling of an amendment to the Bill which, although it was not moved, highlighted our concerns around the Government using the legislation to only tackle cases of BBLs fraud where it is a key creditor, highlighted the need for investigations into directors of dissolved companies not coming at the expense of investigations into directors of insolvent companies, and querying lack of any measures to deal with the dissolved companies themselves, in order to benefit the wider body of creditors.
Lord Fox and Lord Leigh thanked R3 for our support on the Bill, with Lord Fox noting that R3 “has been very helpful in providing technical briefing to me on the Bill” while Lord Leigh thanked R3 for our “perennial helpful guidance and advice”.
We were also pleased to see the two Peers rebut criticisms of the profession made by Lord Sikka in previous debates on the Bill, and call for the profession to have ‘a right of reply’ to his criticisms.
We’ll work to secure this and to ensure the profession’s voice continues to be heard in the legislative debate.
Back to Business continues
Work on our Back to Business campaign continued in November. We contacted more than 19,000 councillors across England and Wales, urging them to use our directors guide to encourage business owners in their constituencies to seek advice at the first sign their business may be financially distressed.
With the cost of living on the rise, soaring energy prices and the winding down of temporary measures put in place to support businesses during the pandemic, it’s never been more important for business owners to recognise and act on signs of financial distress. We are working on adapting the directors guide for Northern Ireland and Scotland, to ensure that directors across the UK have access to this resource.
R3 in the media
In light of news that Bulb is the first energy supplier to be placed into the Special Administration Regime, we promoted R3’s guide to energy insolvencies which was published by The Business magazine. The guide explains what happens to insolvent energy suppliers, what role an insolvency practitioner takes in the process and what it means for customers of the insolvent business.
News of an award win for R3 Chair in Scotland Tim Cooper saw coverage in Scottish Financial News and Insolvency Insider, while our comments on the October insolvency statistics for England and Wales was covered by a range of publications, including the BDaily News, Business Live, Southern Daily Echo and Business News Wales.
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